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NYC Helpline: How To: Manage Your Classroom
View Instructional Videos for Teachers about Classroom Management

Classroom Management (Secondary)

A high school science teacher demonstrates how her structured and routine-based classroom environment is the key to success.

Classroom Management (Elementary)

An elementary school teacher guides us through her daily classroom routines and shows how consistency and structure are essential.

Classroom Management through Cooperative Groups

View two elementary school teachers demonstrate how they engage their students through group work to help them learn.

How to Home
NYC Helpline: Manage Your Classroom
NYC Helpline: How To Get Started

How to Get Organized
Bonnie Glasgold

If you were to have a group of teachers fill out a survey about their number one complaint, it would be about time management and organization. I put the two together because they go hand in hand. An organized teacher has much better control of time management than an unorganized teacher. Where do you begin? The first thing every teacher needs to do is to invest some money into a few basic items.

The most important item you can have in your classroom is a file cabinet. You can purchase an inexpensive one from Staples or Office Depot for about $30.00. These come with two drawers, which should be sufficient. What do you keep in your file cabinet? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. One drawer can be used for subject matter. Group your files according to the subjects you teach, for example: Literacy, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Art, and Music. In these folders I would keep copies of any handouts you gave for the assignments, samples of standard-setting children’s work, and even an old notebook from a child with good handwriting!
  2. One file folder should be for Faculty Conference notes. These will be necessary to keep and refer to from time to time.
  3. A third file can be for professional development notes. These will be important when the time comes to use what you have learned in a lesson.
  4. Keep stickers and other paper rewards in a folder as well.
  5. Catalogues for books, supplies, and other classroom materials can be in another folder.
  6. A folder for dental notes, absence notes, and trips to the nurse should be kept on record for the school year.
  7. If you are a cluster teacher, your file can be organized by grades instead of subjects. You should also keep samples of student’s work as well as your lesson ideas here.

A good file system will let you access the things you need without wasting your time!

Large covered plastic containers are another good investment. You can put your bulletin board supplies (borders, letters), as well as any classroom supplies. Tape an index card to the front and list the contents of the container on the card. This way you don’t have to look through every container to find what you are looking for.

A book rack or niche for Teacher’s Guides and resources is invaluable. It should be placed within easy reach of where you spend most of your day. This should include all the guides to the books you use, as well as any other resources, district publications, etc. that you frequently refer to.

If you have computers in your classroom, you need to have a CD cabinet to store the software. You can also have baskets for finished printed work and unfinished work.
Speaking of baskets, I like to store the basic supplies such as glue, scissors, pencils, and crayons that each group uses in a caddy. It can be placed right on their desks to limit movement around the room. Baskets for book baggies are placed on the desks as well.

In order to get to know your students by name as soon as possible, I recommend creating a seating chart. Some teachers have the children write their names on name cards and place them on their desks. That works just as well.

Set up a record book and roll book as soon as possible. In these you’ll keep a record here of all grades on tests, money handed in for trips and book purchases. A well-thought out record book will let you see at a glance what needs to be addressed.

Once you are organized, time management becomes much easier. When your materials for a lesson are at hand, and you have planned well, the lesson will flow much quicker. Of course, there will always be lessons that take longer, that get sidetracked by well-meaning questions, and/or discipline problems, but not because you weren’t prepared!

See also:

Getting (And Staying) Organized by Pat Haughney


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